Monday, May 18, 2015

How to Cook a Vegetable

"I can't find my glasses."

"Pray to St. Anthony."

"I think it's St. Jude."

"It's not St. Jude.  St. Jude is for selling your house."

"That's St. Joseph.  Upside down.  Buried in the front lawn."

"No, it's St. Jude that's upside down.  You put a holy card upside down and light a candle.  He's upside down because you don't want him to be comfortable."

"Maybe it's St. Lucy."

"That's eating octopus eyes cooked in milk."

"Nobody eats octopus eyes cooked in milk."

"You do.  If you want to find your glasses."

Straight out, I'm going to tell you I'm not a religious person.  I had plenty of that when I was a kid, and it cured me for life.  But there's something about this saint stuff that works.  I could tell you stories.  And I'm a realist.  Why would I walk away from something that works, just because it sounds stupid?

The glasses were found, maybe just because we were TALKING about saints.  Probably we would've found them anyway.  But we'll never know, will we?

The santeria of my grandparents was complicated and precise, but I don't think anybody remembers it exactly any more.  The great revelation is that it doesn't matter.  Any saint will do.  Try it.  You'll be amazed.
Which brings me to the subject of vegetables.

My father-in-law, the restaurateur, once told me that EVERYTHING tastes good if you cook it in olive oil, garlic, and salt.  He was exaggerating.  But not much.

I remember loathing vegetables as a child.  My Sicilian grandmother was allergic to garlic (I know, right?), and so my mother never cooked with it and my father, being from Oklahoma, was more than a little suspicious.  Ever have canned green beans?  Welcome to my childhood.

Thank God, I married into a garlic family.  And I've never looked back.

The connection between the saints and the holy trinity of garlic/olive oil/salt is simply this:  it applies to everything.  Here's the basic recipe:

Italian Vegetables
Wash and trim (if necessary) your vegetables.  If you're making green beans, artichoke hearts, brussel sprouts, broccoli or cauliflower, throw them in some salted, boiling water first, until they're tender.  Drain.  Heat up some olive oil in a big-ass skillet.  Put in some chopped garlic.  When the garlic is just starting to brown, throw in your vegetables (make sure they're reasonably dry before you do this).  Sprinkle with some salt.  Saute until the vegetables are heated through and a little brown.  The time varies, depending on your vegetables.  Spinach cooks fast, green peppers cooks slow.

You can also roast them in the oven.  If you do, don't brown the garlic first.  Throw everything in together.

How much oil, how much garlic, how much salt?  To taste, my darlings.  It's a sure way of finding your soulmate.

The recipe applies to:

Artichoke hearts
Green beans
Kale (I suppose)
Peppers (any color)

And a whole bunch more I'm not even thinking about right now.  This is the basic recipe.  You can add walnuts, pine nuts, black pepper, spices, onions.  Use your imagination.

And thank St. Anthony that you found me.


  1. Oh yes. Now you are speaking my language.

  2. I have this same theory, but in Southern: butter, garlic, salt. You can't go wrong!!!

  3. Ottimi consigli cara! Grazie per la condivisione!!
    Coco et La vie en rose - Valeria Arizzi

  4. Darling my sister used my account to comment and here we have the comment above ahahahaha. First of all I love veggies, but - hope you'll love me nonetheless - I can't tolerate garlic. So I basically do the same but using onion. If I ever go on a cruise I'll definitely need a travel nanny, most probably a travel companion :-) big hugs my friend. My sister might stop by again, hope this doesn't bother you :-)

  5. i'm somewhat the same way when it comes to "established belief systems". ha. that was a funny intro! but, i def need to add more veggies into my diet. i'm a horrible snacker, yet this sounds like it has the potential to be a delicious alternative. (:

    ♥ | | xoxo

  6. Just popped in for a Sunday hug dear. I have been cooking this weekend, I mean seriously ahahaha. Two crostata (crumble pie), brownies and risotto alla milanese. Tons of love dear, going to write an email to you!

  7. when something's missing/ lost we pray to Nossa senhora da Aparecida and we have a prayer to St. Anthony as well! i got to tell you that she has never failed me so far! and as for you iatalian vegetables recipe - on point!!


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